(Pulpit & Pen News) John Piper has been concerning his followers for quite some time when it comes to elaborating upon the Doctrine of Justification and what he, quite uniquely, calls, “final salvation.” Since Piper’s embrace of Douglas Wilson during the height of the Federal Vision controversy (Wilson has since left Federal Vision behind, thankfully), some Reformed Baptists have uneasily eyed Piper with suspicion on the topic.
Federal Vision, for those who don’t know, holds to twenty or so theological errors (so says the Orthodox Presbyterian Church) which make it aberrant. Since the OPC statement against Federal Vision, most Presbyterian denominations have gone on to formally condemn it.
Among the twenty charges against Federal Vision by the OPC, a number specifically relate to how Piper is perceived (at least) to elaborate upon justification himself:
- Defining justification exclusively as the forgiveness of sins.
Including works (by use of “faithfulness,” “obedience,” etc.) in the very definition of faith.
Piper stirred up his followers back in September when he made troubling statements about Justification in the post, Does God Really Save Us by Faith Alone? In my opinion, the best and most thorough analysis on Piper’s so-called “Final Salvation” theology was done by Tim Shaughnessy and Timothy Kauffman at Bible Thumping Wingnut, which you can find in their blog post, here.
Shaughnessy and Kauffman’s argument is that there’s enough supporting evidence in previous work from John Piper – for example, his 2009 debate with NT Wright – to substantiate that Piper conflates justification and sanctification.
[Editor’s Note: We know the novice may not understand the controversy. Let me explain. Protestant theology holds to an “Ordo Salutis” – or order of salvation – which, although its chronological order may differ from one school to another, holds that “salvation” is an overreaching concept that includes smaller aspects or parts of salvation, like election, predestination, regeneration, justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification. So then, when Protestants speak of “salvation” they mean what the Triune God has done to save sinners from divine wrath, and when we speak of any of the categories above, we mean to imply that it is just one part of overall salvation. Shaughnessy and Kauffman provided evidence that Piper was speaking of “salvation” in a way that meant “justification,” which is conflated and sloppy theology at best]